Minni/Memphis Musical Preview- Sleet Hurts More Than Rain.

Just back from a Sunday work schedule and not seeing a musical preview, it's seems incumbent on me to fill the void.

I'm not feeling the need to branch out from Memphis to other areas; what place other than New Orleans (in the United States, that is) has ever produced more amazing music? What I will do instead is narrow the focus rather than enlarge it. There was a record label based in Memphis that produced many of my favorite artists of my youth, and likely many of yours as well. I give you:



Stax started out as Satellite records in 1957 recording mainly country and rockability songs. After meeting up with Rufus Thomas, a local DJ, a recording was made of Cause I Love You and became Satellites first hit. An agreement was made with Atlantic records for national distribution.

Carla & Rufus Thomas - 'Cause I Love You (via Morgen Selmer)

In 1961 Satellite became Stax/Volt records and started recording primarily R&B and Soul music. A local instrumental band called the Royal Spades was signed, changed their name and had this amazing hit.

THE MAR-KEYS - Last Night (via NaturalSoulBrother1)

Also in 1961, due to a royalty dispute, producer Chips Moman left and was replaced by Steve Cropper. Cropper was , of course, much more than just a producer, he was also a superb songwriter and a fabulous guitarist. By 1962 Booker T. Jones and Donald "Duck" Dunn had joined the label and all three of these guys became the house band that was the mainstay of all Stax/Volt recordings. Here is a little Booker T and the MGs hit with Cropper and Dunn on guitars.

Green Onions Booker T & The MGS (via GreatSpeckledBird)

In 1964 Isaac Hayes joined the house band along with his songwriting partner David Porter. Along with Wayne Jackson on horns, this group became known as the mighty sextet and was the backbone of the label until the late sixties. With this group as backup, Otis Redding recorded These Arms of Mine on the Volt label in 1962.

These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding (via ReptilesDial911)

I wasn't able to find an early version of it, but at about this same time William Bell had a minor hit with this song.

William Bell - You Don't Miss Your Water. (via Wakatjo)

In the mid sixties a couple things really helped to establish the label as a major player. One was the ascendency of Hayes and Porter to become primary songwriters for the label, the other was the signing of a formal distribution agreement with Atlantic records, giving Stax a much bigger outlet for the music. Sam and Dave were signed and recorded this familiar song.

Sam & Dave - Hold On I'm Comin' (best quality + lyrics) (via E18sk8)

Wilson Pickett was brought over from the ATCO label and recorded this very danceable tune.

Wilson Pickett - Land Of 1000 Dances - Live `66 (via charly trenn)

Stax remained on a roll until 1968 when Atlantic records was bought by Warner Brothers and it was discovered that the owners of Stax, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton had inadvertently signed over the rights to all the songs to Atlantic. Warner Brothers took a hard line and demanded a renegotiation of terms of the agreement with a much smaller share for Stax. Stax walked and lost all rights to the back catalog but was able to sign a deal with Paramount who also owned Dot records. The first big hit for the new owners was Little Johnny Taylor's Who's Making Love.

Vital vinyl - Johnnie Taylor "Who's making love"? (via Angrytownnews)

Isaac Hayes really came into his own as an artist at this time and gave the label several hits. This is not one of his more famous songs, but I couldn't resist pushing the limits of the smut patrol.

Isaac Hayes-Chocolate Salty Balls Live (via Taquito)

The Paramount distribution agreement didn't work well, and in 1970 Stewart and new partner Al Bell repurchased the company and did their own distribution. Sales however were down, even though Al Bell started a comedy label called Partee records and recorded such greats as Richard Pryor and Moms Mabley. By 1972 things were going badly and Bell bought out Stewart and signed a distribution deal with CBS records. CBS let the label languish and sales slumped further but they would not release Stax from the deal because they feared a competing label would sign them and take away sales. Stax and Bell declared bankruptcy in 1975 and a decade of recording history was over.The last big hit on the label was Shirley Brown's Woman to Woman.

Shirley Brown / Woman To Woman (via kazuharp)

So that's it; I hope that this short trip to Memphis has been enjoyable for all. The Memphis Grizzlies have been playing somewhat lackluster ball since the departure of Rudy Gay, now would be a good time for the Wolves to hunt them down in their den. Post anything that strikes your fancy folks, this thread has no limits!

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